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Bleiburg - Pieces of a Broken Dream

Pieces of a Broken Dream is a comprehensive archiving of the Croatian project Bleiburg's collaborations with artists from Europe, America and Japan. It's an exhaustive collection of 17 collaborative tracks and 7 previously unreleased solo tracks from Bleiburg. Bleiburg is the solo project of Stefan Rukavina, former publisher of the Thaglasz journal and related vinyl releases, and it's clear he has made considerable use of his extensive contact list. I must confess this is my first real exposure to Bleiburg (aside from some compilation tracks) but it would be fair to say that they operate within post-industrial/neo-folk circles. The solo tracks are largely slices of dark electronics, brooding soundscapes with symphonic passages and spartan rhythms and beats. It's worth noting, however, that it takes until track 5, and the first of two collaborations with Obscure Resistance that they deploy the acoustic strum synonymous with neo-folk, though earlier tracks adopt the martial vocals so favoured by the genre. As a result of the collaborations the entire Bleiburg sound is taken into new musical avenues absorbing fresh elements. With Cawatana there's an air of eastern mystery to the ritual industrial sounds. US contemporary medieavalists Soil Bleeds Black surround the martial vocals with dirge like strings, flute, a fluttering piano score and death rattle percussion. The martial folk of Harvest Rain is awash with ethnic flute and hand percussion, while even Lonsai Makov's chanson is drawn into the realms of traditional folk. The other artists featured include Gregorio Bardini, Thorn Agram, Larrnakh, Project Toth.

Bleiburg may take their name form a European conflict but they seem to be setting their martial themes in a modern context, namely that of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Throughout Pieces of a Broken Dream Bleiburg display an interest in eastern sounds where tablas and hand percussion replace the martial beats atypical of neo-folk, ethnic flutes feature heavily. Even their own tracks on the second disc are evidence of their interest in recent history and contemporary world affairs. 'Oil In Their Eyes' features forlorn piano and the distressed cries of (Muslim?) women, while 'Muezzin Pop' harnesses Eastern samples to explosive beats. And while the first disc revolved around neo-folk, the second disc is far more electronic, featuring a number of ambient and noise tracks. The real highlights are the longest. Aube offer ringing and buzzing tones, ricocheted metal, against a solid Bleiburg beat. Cellar of Rats provide a tension ridden soundscape of blurred electronics, cinematic strings and battlesounds. The other artists include Nocturne, Telepherique, Amir Baghiri and Vidna Obmana. The latter's collaborative effort is a fitting piece of tranquil ethno-ambience.

The collaborative ventures on a Pieces of a Broken Dream illustrate that Bleiburg have found a way out of the musical cul-de-sac that is neo-folk. How much of that is down to the collaborators we don't know - no writing credits or any recording information for that matter is provided - but the diversity of musical approach while remaining loosely anchored to neo-folk /dark ambient genres should attract the attention of even the most jaded neo-folker. For the most part, it's an engaging collection and as an entry to the world of Bleiburg its unsurpassed, and an impressive first CD release by anyone's standard. For more information go to www.coldspring.co.uk